304 Commonwealth

304 Commonwealth (2014)

Lot 35' x 124.5' (4,358 sf)

Lot 35′ x 124.5′ (4,358 sf)

304 Commonwealth is located on the south side of Commonwealth, between Gloucester and Hereford, with 302 Commonwealth to the east and 306 Commonwealth to the west.

304 Commonwealth was designed by architect Julius A. Schweinfurth and built in 1895-1896 by McNeil Brothers and Turner Welt, builders.

Blueprints for 304 Commonwealth — including the piling plan, floor plans, and framing plans — are bound with the final building inspection report in the collection of the Boston Public Library’s Arts Department (volume 77, page 55).

By the 1896-1897 winter season, 304 Commonwealth was the home of Alice (Weld) Williams, the widow of Thomas Blake Williams, and their three children:  Louise Harding Williams, Ralph Blake Williams, and Ruth Williams.  They previously had lived at 48 Beacon.

B. C. Clark and Otis E Weld are shown as the owners on the original building permit application, dated July 17, 1895, and on the final building inspection report, dated July 9, 1896, identified in both cases as “guardians,” probably of the minor children of Thomas and Alice Williams.  Benjamin Cutler Clark, Jr., was Alice Williams’s brother-in-law. the husband of Adeline Kinnicutt Weld, and Otis Everett Weld was her cousin.  Ralph B. Williams et al are shown as the owners on the 1898 Bromley map.

First floor plan of 304 Commonwealth, bound with the final building inspection report, 9Jul1896 (v. 77, p. 55); courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

First floor plan of 304 Commonwealth, bound with the final building inspection report, 9Jul1896 (v. 77, p. 55); courtesy of the Boston Public Library Arts Department

Louise Williams died in August of 1902, and Ruth Williams married in February of 1904 to Dr. George Gray Sears, a physician.  Prior to their marriage, he had lived at 19 Marlborough.  Soon after their marriage, Alice (Weld) Williams, Ralph Blake Williams, and George and Ruth Sears moved to 462 Beacon.

In September of 1904, shoe manufacturer Lewis Abbott Crossett and his wife, Sarah F. (Dow) Crossett, acquired 304 Commonwealth from the Williams family.  They previously had libved in North Abington.  Lewis Abbott is shown as the owner of 304 Commonwealth on the 1908 and 1917 Bromley maps.  Their daughter, Ruth Lewis Crossett lived with them.  They also maintained a home in Cohasset.

Ruth Crossett married in October of 1908 to T. Russell Appleton, also a shoe manufacturer, and they moved to 31 Hereford.  He died in August of 1912, and by the 1913-1914 winter season Ruth (Crossett) Appleton was living with her parents at 304 Commonwealth.  She remarried in October of 1916 to Austin Staats Kibbee, a career naval officer who retired in 1919 to join his father-in-law’s shoe manufacturing company.  After their marriage, they lived in Brookline and, during the 1920-1921 winter season, at 441 Beacon.

Lewis Crossett died in April of 1926.  He left 304 Commonwealth to Sarah Crossett, and their Cohasset home to their daughter, Ruth Kibbee.  Sarah Crossett moved to an apartment at 282 Berkeley soon after his death.

304 Commonwealth ca. 1897, from the Catalogue for 1897 Special Exhibition of the Boston Architectural Club

304 Commonwealth ca. 1897, from the Catalogue for 1897 Special Exhibition of the Boston Architectural Club

By the 1926-1927 winter season, 304 Commonwealth was the home of Frederick Russell Sawyer, a haberdasher, and his wife, Hazel (McClary) Sawyer.  They previously had lived at 306 Marlborough.  F. R. and H. M. Sawyer are shown as the owners of 304 Commonwealth on the 1928 Bromley map.  They also maintained a home in Swampscott.

Frederick Sawyer died in November of 1933.  Hazel Sawyer continued to live at 304 Commonwealth until about 1935.

The house was not listed in the 1936 and 1937 Blue Books, and was shown as vacant in the 1935-1937 City Directories.

In September of 1937, Hazel Sawyer filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house.

She is shown as the owner on the 1938 Bromley map.

The property changed hands and in April of 1951 was acquired by Josephine (Cuoco) D’Amore, former wife of Santo D’Amore.  She lived at 509 Beacon and operated 304 Commonwealth as a lodging house.  It was managed by her son-in-law and daughter, Sidney Paul Dobrov and Mary J. (D’Amore) Dobrov, who had moved there after their marriage in 1949.  He was a grocer.

In the early 1960s, the Dobrovs were joined at 304 Commonwealth by Mary Dobrov’s sister, Jean D’Amore, who previously had lived at 509 Beacon with their mother.  Mary Dobrov and Jean D’Amore operated the Mar-Jean Sportswear company together.  Jean D’Amore continued to live at 304 Commonwealth until her marriage in 1965 to George Bongaards, after which they lived in Dorchester and then at 291 Commonwealth.

304 Commonwealth (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum

304 Commonwealth (ca. 1942), photograph by Bainbridge Bunting, courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum

On February 22, 1965, apartments on the second and third floors of 304 Commonwealth were damaged by fire.

In April of 1965, Josephine D’Amore filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a lodging house into twelve apartments.

In November of 1968, she applied for (and subsequently received) permission to add a one-story addition to the existing rear ell.

In May of 1978, Josephine D’Amore transferred the property to herself as trustee of the 304 Commonwealth Avenue Trust.

Josephine D’Amore died in July of 1979 and Mary Dobrov became successor trustee and beneficiary of the 304 Commonwealth Avenue Trust.

In April of 2007, the 304 Commonwealth Avenue LLC purchased 304 Commonwealth from Mary Dobrov, trustee of the 304 Commonwealth Avenue Trust.  In June of 2007, it applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from twelve apartments into three apartments.  And in November of 2009, it converted the property into three condominium units, The Clark Weld House Condominium.